The Conjuring Review

Posted: August 15, 2013 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

the-conjuring-poster

Written by: Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Disclaimer: This film has already been reviewed on this site by HT Schuyler. For a different take on The Conjuring, click here.

Movies often follow trends, with horror films being amongst the most transparent in their following. Halloween inspired a wave of slasher films, Saw brought us the torture porn era, and now we’re currently in a wave of haunted house films. I’m personally getting pretty tired of this trend, but The Conjuring has been a film I’ve been anticipating, mostly because director James Wan has proven himself very good at these types of films. Add to that the fact that reviews were extremely positive and I found myself very excited for The Conjuring.

The film takes place in the early 1970s and follows a family of seven who move into a lake house. Early on, the family is plagued by bizarre occurrences. All the clocks stop at the same time every night, strange sounds are heard, and physical contact is even made with supernatural entities. As these events progress, the family eventually seeks the help of paranormal experts Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga).

The first thing that hit me about The Conjuring was how much they were pushing the “based on a true story” aspect, which I found annoying. It may sound like a pet peeve, but I really hate when movies try to act like their story really happened when it clearly didn’t. What’s worse is that Ed and Lorraine Warren are real people, people who many (myself included) believe to be con artists who made money with absurd ghost stories which they claimed were true accounts. But the film portrays them as these saint-like characters dedicated to stopping ghosts and saving people. I’m not saying the film should have shown them as frauds, but surely they could have come up with something more interesting. To be fair, the performances from Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga go a long way to making the characters likable, but they’re not given much to work with.

In general, the script is just plagued with problems. The central family being haunted are the blandest victims possible, the structure is a bit off, and there is some really bad dialogue. The film also has a very odd pair of characters who, I believe, are supposed to serve as comedic relief, but don’t really do much of anything. They aren’t funny but they aren’t unfunny enough to be annoying either. There just sort of there. The script’s ultimate failure is just straight up lack of originality. The film has all the tropes one would expect from a haunted house film and brings nothing new to the table. Children acting strange, animal disturbances, doors opening and closing by themselves, strange noses, ghosts appearing in one shot and disappearing the next, all tricks that have been done a million times before, and I say this as someone who hasn’t seen very much haunted house films. The closest thing this script has to an original idea is putting the investigators at the center of the film, but even that doesn’t change the dynamics much if at all.

Thankfully, the film is saved by director James Wan. After a decade of making genre films, Wan has mastered how to make a good horror movie. The man clearly knows what he’s doing and manages to craft some very effective moments. He gives the film a very creepy vibe and manages to really ratchet up the tension in the film’s third at which is simultaneously frightening and exciting. I really dug his aesthetic here, I just wish he brought it to a better script than this.

All in all, I’m pretty disappointed with The Conjuring. The script is just so uninspired (among other things) that it’s very hard to really get behind the film. I’m genuinely shocked that critics are taking to it the way they are. James Wan’s craftsmanship is good, and even Wilson and Farmiga are trying, but the old adage that you can’t make a good movie from a bad script rings true, though I applaud Wan for coming as close as he did.

C+

Comments
  1. Sad you didn’t like it more, PG. It’s a hell of a horror film.

  2. CMrok93 says:

    Good stuff. Wasn’t scared by this all that much, but still enjoyed the chills and thrills it gave me.

  3. I didn’t completely buy into this either. I thought it was well constructed and acted but I just thought it was a little predictable and safe. There were so many cliches throughout.

  4. ianthecool says:

    Hmm, makes you wonder why its getting so much praise then, its its really not as different as all the rest. Thanks for the review!

  5. I’m with you on this, over hyped :(

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